Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, the southern half of what used to be Czechoslovakia. At one time, it was a place where Europen royalty had homes and conducts trade across the continent. Then after the fall of the Hapsburg Empire and the later takeover of Communism, the area fell into deep depression and economic hard times. The barricades between Bratislava and neighboring Austria were austere. And there was no access to Western news or customs. The isolation was extreme and had a deep impact of the area.
However, following the fall of Communism in 1989 and the separation from Czechosolvakia in 1993, the area began to recover slowly after four decades of despair. Fortunately, much of the early architecture still remains, although it is in need of repair. The city is charming and beautiful is a sweet but somewhat way. The people are happy and optimistic, and not shy at all about telling you how much better things are now.
After leaving Bratislava this afternoon, we've been cruising the Danube on our way to Budapest. It's been a delightful, peaceful afternoon - one I will long remember.
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